Sentence Fragments

In these lessons, we will learn what are sentence fragments and how to avoid them.

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An incomplete group of words punctuated as if it were a sentence is called a sentence fragment or a fragmentary sentence. A sentence fragment usually has either the subject, or the predicate, or both the subject and predicate missing.

It is essential to avoid sentence fragments in your writings. Whenever you are in doubt about a particular sentence ask yourself: Does the group of words contain both a subject and a predicate? Does it express a complete thought?

The following diagram shows some examples of sentence fragments. Scroll down the page for more examples of sentence fragments and how to avoid them.

Sentence Fragments

Common Types Of Sentence Fragments

Missing Subject

Very often the subject of the sentence is missing. The following sentence fragment does not tell who it is that the writer is talking about. The sentence can be completed by adding the subject The president.

Met with the people. (This is a sentence fragment - missing subject)
The president met with the people. (This is a complete sentence)

Missing Predicate

Sometimes the predicate is missing. The following sentence fragment does not have a predicate. The sentence can be completed by adding the predicate was loud.

The sound from the room. (This is a sentence fragment - missing predicate)
The sound from the room was loud. (This is a complete sentence)

Dependent Clauses Or Subordinate Clauses Written As A Sentence

In some cases, sentence fragments may have a subject and a verb, but it does not form a complete thought.

Because he lost his car keys.
After they finished dinner.
Since you were not at home.

All the above sentence fragments are not able to stand on their own. They are called dependent clauses or subordinate clauses. We can complete the sentences by adding more information - independent clauses.

Because he lost his car keys, he had to catch the bus home. (He had to catch the bus home because he lost his car keys.)

After they finished dinner, they went to the movies. (They went to the movies after they finished dinner.)

Since you were not home, I left a note at your door. (I left a note at your door since you were not home.)

Relative pronouns (which, that, who, whom, whose) and subordinate conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses. These little words can change a complete thought to a fragment.

John completed the job. (sentence)
Unless John completed the job. (fragment)
John, who completed the job. (fragment)

Complete Sentences And Fragments

Each group of words below is a fragment. Tell whether the subject or predicate is missing.

  1. Sat in the front row.
  2. The man in the house across the street.
  3. After the game.
  4. Found the screwdriver in the garage.
  5. Under my bed.
  6. Mr. Jones had a picnic with his wife.
  7. Plays the flute very well.
  8. The cute little kitten.
  9. The sink was full of dishes.
  10. During the second half.
  11. Searched every corner of the house.
  12. I am excited!

Sentence Skills (Recognizing Fragments)

This video will help you figure out whether a sentence is truly a complete sentence.

A fragment is an incomplete sentence. It will begin with a capital letter and end with a period but will not include the three necessary components of a sentence:

  1. a verb
  2. a subject
  3. a complete thought

Every sentence must pass three requirements before you can call it complete.
Requirement #1 - Find the verb.

Every sentence must have a verb. Verb express action or link information to the subject.
Requirement #2 - Find the subject.

If you find an action verb in the sentence, the subject is whoever or whatever is doing that action.
Requirement #3: - Find the complete thought.

Make sure that a word group is not a subordinate clause.

Examples of sentence fragments and how to fix them

To be a sentence, a group of words must consist of at least one full independent clause.

An independent clause has a subject and a verb and is a complete thought. 1: Some fragments lack a subject, verb or both. 2: Some fragments are clauses that contain a subject and a verb but begin with a subordinate word.
Subordinate words include: after, although, because, before, if so, that, though, unless, until, when, where, who, and which. 3: A fragment may simply need to be attached to a nearby sentence.


Here we look at

  • sentence fragments
  • comma splices
  • run-on sentences

and how to fix them.

Sentence Fragments and Run-on Sentences

Avoiding and Correcting Sentence Fragments

This video reviews the difference between sentences and sentence fragments, as well as how to revise sentence fragments into complete sentences.How to avoid and correct sentence fragments (or incomplete sentences) in writing.

Try the free Mathway calculator and problem solver below to practice various math topics. Try the given examples, or type in your own problem and check your answer with the step-by-step explanations.
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